Would any cult admit to being a cult? No. The term has wholly negative connotations so all cults will avoid being labelled with such a term. Jehovah’s Witnesses are no different.
No, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a cult. Rather, we are Christians who do our best to follow the example set by Jesus Christ and to live by his teachings.
Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to provide two perceptions regarding cults and explain why those perceptions do not apply to them:
Some think of a cult as being a new or unorthodox religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses have not invented a new religion. On the contrary, we pattern our worship after that of the first-century Christians, whose example and teachings were recorded in the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) We believe that the Holy Scriptures should be the authority on what is orthodox in matters of worship.
Some think of a cult as being a dangerous religious sect with a human leader. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not look to any human as their leader. Rather, we adhere to the standard that Jesus set for his followers when he stated: “Your Leader is one, the Christ.”—Matthew 23:10.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have not invented a new religion. No. They just created a movement in the 1870’s that patterned their worship after first-century Christians. Then they changed that pattern. And changed it again. And again. And again and again and again. Their pattern has changed so much between the 1870’s and what it is today. In fact, if you look at their “pattern” now and compare it with the “pattern” that they followed just 2o years ago, you’ll see that it too has changed considerably. So do they really pattern their worship after the first-century Christians? Very unlikely, if they have to keep changing it.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not look to any human as their leader. Really? Is this true? Let’s assume for the moment that it’s true that their “Leader is one, the Christ.” Now, let’s go to the July 2016 Study Edition of The Watchtower. On page 28, paragraph 9, it quotes Therefore, we are ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us. As substitutes for Christ, we beg 'Become reconciled to God.'2 Corinthians 5:20. This is an interesting scripture in the New World Translation because it is the only bible* that quotes Paul as saying that they are “substituting for Christ” or “substitutes of Christ”. If they are substituting for Christ, well then they are a cult because they are substituting themselves as leaders. Therefore, their leader is not one, but it is many: those whom Jehovah’s Witnesses consider to be anointed Christians. Furthermore, on page 29, paragraph 14 it states: “They [144,000] will share with Jesus in … directing obedient humans to the means to become free from the burden of sin and death and raising them to perfection.” So again, they share the leadership with Christ.
Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a cult? Yes, they are because:
- They are a new religion that keeps reinventing itself by constantly changing its doctrine.
- The members who see themselves as “anointed Christians” have substituted themselves as leaders for Christ.